Odds format
United States

Oklahoma’s Next Head Coach: The Top 5 Candidates to Replace Lincoln Riley

Who should be Oklahoma's next head coach? Let's take a look at the top five candidates to become Oklahoma's next head coach, following Lincoln Riley's announcement to leave for USC
| 4 min read
Share to Facebook
Share to Twitter
Copy Link

Oklahoma’s Next Head Coach: The Top 5 Candidates to Replace Lincoln Riley

Lincoln Riley shocked the college football world on Sunday, deciding to leave Oklahoma for a different head coaching opportunity. It was long rumored that Riley would be considered for the LSU head coaching job, rumors which he constantly denied. And, in the end, he was true to his word. He didn’t take the LSU job, but he did leave the Sooners to be the head football coach at USC.

The news has left the Sooners reeling. Not only do they have to worry about the status of their current program and the players on their roster, but Riley has also managed to get commitments from some of the top recruits in incoming classes. What happens to those commits?

Well, not long after the news of Riley’s departure broke, the Sooners got more bad news. QB Malachi Nelson, the No. 2 overall recruit in the 2023 class, has de-committed from OU, putting even more doubt into the future of the Sooners.

So, now the Oklahoma football team enters crisis mode. In order to make sure their current players stay and their future recruits don’t go looking elsewhere, they have to make a splash hire for their next head coach, and fast.

Who will be the next Oklahoma football head coach? Let’s take a look at the top five most likely names.

For the latest college football odds from across the country, click here

Error fetching data.

Top 5 Candidates for Oklahoma’s Next Head Coach

Mark Stoops – Kentucky HC

Mark Stoops makes all the sense in the world for Oklahoma’s next head coach, I’m just not sure if it’s the “sexy” hire some at the program will be looking for. Yet again, Riley was relatively unknown when he took over. The obvious connection for Stoops is his brother, Bob Stoops, was the head coach in Norman from 1999-2016, where he won a National Championship and 10 Big 12 titles. Mark Stoops has been a great coach in his own right. He has taken a once terrible Kentucky football team and made them competitive in the toughest conference in the world, the SEC. He even won SEC Coach of the Year in 2018. OU is making the move to the SEC in the near future. They want a coach that has experience winning at the highest level. Stoops has the obvious connection to the program and the credentials to validate him as the next head coach at OU.

Matt Campbell – Iowa State HC

Campbell has been one of the hottest names in the head coaching carousel over the past few years for the turnaround he’s been responsible for at Iowa State. When Campbell got to Ames, the Cyclones were in a sorry state. Their previous head coach, Paul Rhoads, has a 32-55 record overall. Since Campbell has arrived, the Cyclones are 35-28. Campbell is a two-time Big-12 Coach of the Year. Iowa State was supposed to compete with OU for a Big-12 title this year, but both teams ended up having disappointing seasons. Still, Campbell’s familiarity with the conference and Oklahoma football makes him an attractive candidate. And, since the Cyclones aren’t competing for a conference title or national title, OU could move fast on this hire, in theory. Unlike a certain head coach in Cincinnati.

Looking for the best college football picks around? Look no further

Brent Venables – Clemson DC

This is a tricky one. Venables is probably the most well-known and respected defensive mind in college football. He coached in Norman under Bob Stoops from 1999-2011, where he was the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. Since then, he’s been the defensive coordinator at Clemson, helping Dabo Swinney turn them into a national powerhouse. Venables has a strong connection to the school and his credentials are unmatched, but does he want to be a head coach? He has said multiple times that he has no interest in coaching a team of his own. He enjoys being the defensive coordinator at Clemson and has even told teams that came knocking in the past that he has no interest in a head job. But, does that change if Oklahoma, the school where it all started for him, comes knocking? I’m not sure, but it certainly makes things interesting. Another roadblock for the Venables to OU train is that OU tends to want to hire offensive coaches, and Venables is known for his strong defensive mind.

Josh Heupel – Tennessee HC

If you grew up watching the Bob Stoops era in Norman, Oklahoma then you know why Josh Heupel to become Oklahoma’s next head coach makes all the sense in the world. Remember that national title Bob Stoops won as a head coach? Heupel was the starting QB on that team. He led the Sooners to an unbeaten record and a win over Florida State in the National Championship game, finishing second in Heisman voting and becoming immortalized in Oklahoma football lore. Since then, Heupel has made a name for himself in coaching. It gets a bit tricky for Heupel as he was fired as the OU co-offensive coordinator and QB coach in 2014, but I assume they can patch that up. Heupel was the head coach at UCF, where he led the team to a 12-1 record in 2018 and a Fiesta Bowl appearance. Last offseason, he accepted the job as Tennessee’s head coach and immediately turned the offense around in his first season in Knoxville. Would Heupel leave after just one year? That remains to be seen. But you assume that if he was going to leave, OU would be the landing spot that makes the most sense.

Click here to get the best sportsbook offer available in your state

Lane Kiffin – Ole Miss HC

There are other names that make sense here. Luke Fickell, Dave Aranda, Mario Cristobal and more. But, I think Lane Kiffin is the perfect fit in Oklahoma. If I were running the OU athletic department, Kiffin would be my first call. First and foremost, he is an excellent head coach. Don’t let his rough stretch in Oakland, Tennessee and USC fool you. Kiffin turned Florida Atlantic into a winning program in just two years and has just delivered Ole Miss its first 10-win regular season ever. Kiffin can recruit, he is an offensive-minded coach and more than anything, he knows what it takes to win in the SEC. The biggest question is whether or not he would walk away from Ole Miss. He seems to enjoy Oxford and everything about the program. He has become a celebrity there. Would he walk away from it for a shot at OU? I’m not entirely sure, but think about what Caleb Williams would look like in the offense Matt Corral ran this year. Think about what Kiffin could do with the talent OU pulls in. For me, Kiffin should be the top choice for Oklahoma’s next head coach.


Brian is a sports journalist with close to ten years of experience in the business. A lifelong Philadelphia sports fan with a passion for all things sports gambling.


Almost there!

We are loading your bets, and they will be here in a second.